You are a mandated reporter if you are one of the following:
Human Service Worker
Reporting does NOT require PROOF that child abuse or neglect has occurred. Incidents are to be reported as soon as they are suspected. Waiting for proof may involve grave risk to the child and impede services to the family. Witnesses to child abuse and neglect are rare. Professional judgment and knowledge should be used to evaluate any suspicion.
Please note that effective October 1, 2016, if a local department has reason to believe that a mandated reporter knowingly failed to make a report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child, the local department must file a complaint with the appropriate licensing board or employer of the mandated reporter. Anyone making a “good faith” report is immune from civil liability and criminal penalty.
Mandated reporters are required to notify the local department of social services or the appropriate law enforcement agency about suspected cases of child abuse or neglect as soon as possible. Reporting form DHR/SSA 180 must be completed within 48 hours following the verbal report. The verbal report should be made immediately upon the reporter having a suspicion that child abuse or neglect has occurred. Please select the local department of social services for the jurisdiction where you believe the incident(s) occurred to make a report. A copy of the form must also be provided to the local State’s Attorney’s office.
If the reporter is employed in a hospital, public health agency, child care institution, school, detention facility or similar institution, the staff shall immediately notify the head of the institution or their designee (Family Law, § 5-704 (a)(2). Notification of the institution head does not substitute for the staff member’s need to call the local department of social services and complete the form 180 and notify the State’s Attorney’s office.
Oral and written reports must contain:
The name, age, and home address of the child;
The name and home address of the child’s parent or party responsible for the child’s care;
The whereabouts of the child;
The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect of the child;
Any evidence or information available to the reporter concerning possible previous instances of abuse or neglect and;
Any evidence or information that would help to determine the cause of the suspected abuse or neglect;
The identity of any individual responsible for the abuse or neglect;
Any observable, identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability function
The intake worker will request additional information in order to obtain the most comprehensive and complete information possible to inform decision making and subsequent agency action. Because Child Protective Services seeks to affect both safety and change, information on the family’s strengths as well as needs will be requested.
Information contained in records or reports concerning child abuse or neglect is protected. Federal and State laws restrict the circumstances under which information contained in records and reports may be disclosed. Mandated reporters and local department staff must comply with Maryland confidentiality laws provided in Family Law Article §5-707 and the Human Services Article §§1-201-1-203, Annotated Code of Maryland when asked to disclose or discuss any information contained in records concerning child abuse and neglect.
There are two Maryland laws (Health General Article 4-306, and the Family Law Article §5-711) pertaining to the disclosure of medical records, including mental health records to local departments of social services. (Health General Article, 4-306 went in effect July 1, 1991. The Family Law Article 5-711 went in effect July 1, 1987).
Health General Article 4-306
The law mandates that health care providers disclose information from medical records concerning any person (child or adult) who is being assessed as part of a protective services response or to whom services are being provided. Information is to be shared upon request to the local department of social services representative providing the protective services. The law governs medical records including mental health records.
Family Law Article 5-711
The law mandates that as needed by the local department as part of its child protective services response or in order for the department to provide appropriate services in the best interests of the child who is the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect; copies of the child’s medical records be provided, upon request from any provider of medical care.